Akosua Nsowah (2nd place. Creative Nonfiction. Fall 2011 Writing Contest)
Over the past years, I have watched as your interests have changed. You no longer like to pick up newspapers and read, to hold the tangible, crisp paper in your hands as your reliable source of news. As I flashback to the days when you would wait hesitantly for the evening news on the TV network stations, tears fill my eyes for those days are long gone. Morning newspapers are no longer prominent. You rely more on the new media such as cable television, YouTube, internet blogs, satellite radio, and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for your news. The reason is clear. There is a dramatic social and cultural change that is changing the way you keep yourself informed about your global and local environment. One reason is that the internet is more convenient for you; it’s readily available, easier and faster to access. Also, news on social networking sites and cable television seem to have an edge—they are short and precise, have striking visual effects that immediately draw your attention, and have other entertaining elements that keep you spellbound to their charm.
So as a TV network station, I must learn from the historical decline of the newspaper and change my strategies of appeal. I am going to grasp your undivided attention. I am going to shape the way you think. My biases and prejudices will become your biases and prejudice. I am going to mold the way you view the world by painting dramatic world events to fuel your stereotypes. You are ignorant of the fact that I have so much power over you—I can incite your fear, anger, and create for you new worries. These days my crew and I will no longer engage in objective journalism.
Bad news and outrageous news sell, so I am going to feed you news of the tragic highway accident, of the little child who was forced to drive after his father collapsed at the wheel, of the poor child who was raped by her own mother, of the drive-by shooting, of the pizza delivery man who was killed for money. I am also going to tell you about a fortunate surfer who almost got eaten by a whale; of the invisibility cloaks that scientists are making; about the cyber criminals who hijacked four million computers; about a lady who woke up from a coma after being been sexually harassed, strangled, and doused in bleach. But I am not going to tell you about what is in the healthcare bill; I am only going to give you sound bites of profiles on political candidates. Nor am I going to expand on the economic crises in Europe, and especially in Greece.
My conscience is conflicted for I feel you deserve more profound and well rounded information. Being informed about decisions that have a huge impact on your political and social environment as well as the economy is important. Yet I beseech you, do not blame me. You made me into what I have become. Your apathy drew me into drastic strategies of appeal. Your attention span was what created the short, shallow sound bites of news. You gave your impressions and I produced your wishes. Your thirst for drama, gossip, and bad news was what created what you see today. Dear apathetic reader, the biggest problem with me today is not misinformation. The biggest problem is distraction, and you fanned the flames of the problem. My job is to keep it burning, for that is the only way I can keep you in suspense and keep my ratings high. My job is to take advantage of your ignorance. You’ve left me with no other choice to make a decent wage.
Forever at Your Service,
The New TV Network Station